At last! I don’t know where this last week’s gone. I just got Missy off to sleep at 10am today and the second her head touched the pillow the doorbell rang, and "Waaaaahhhh!" Then my Mum and Dad came and then we had a sort of lunch, and now she’s having an afternoon nap so I’ve sneaked in here.
Last Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and before I go into details I’ll tell you that I enjoyed the whole day and wish we could do it all over again (only slightly differently in places). I’d spent Saturday making buns and pumpkin cakes, three summer puddings, two gypsy tarts and six pints of six different flavours of jelly, and our BIL K had come over to help us put up the gazebo in the back garden, and lent us some garden chairs so that there’d be enough; about 50 people were coming back for lunch and the afternoon.
My brother D, who was Godfather, was feeling really rough and his partner J couldn’t come because she felt even worse. D managed to get across town and got to us, Mum and Dad came to us at 10am under their own steam and D drove them to the church, luckily only a few minutes up the road. He got through the service OK but didn’t stay afterwards, just dropped M&D off at our place and went home. I managed to get an official photographer at the last minute and at least made sure that he took some pictures of D with K after the service, so that he knows he was there.
K spent the whole morning clinging to me like a monkey up a tree and I just couldn’t put her down, not even to give her to M&D, and that’s really unusual. So I did everything one-handed. We planned to leave just after 1030 so we could get there early and talk to the Vicar and other guests etc (she’s actually a Curate, I don’t know why I keep saying Vicar). R went to pick up MIL who arrived with crockery and food, and we put some lettuce leaves in water to be ready for draining on our return. One job less!
At 1015 I put K’s dress on, and she did look lovely in it. I put on her frilly socks and the satin shoes that my friend (her Godmother P) had found in Canterbury; they were slightly too big and kept coming off, but they did look nice. M&D had given her a silver cross on a chain, and suggested that I put it on ribbon for the occasion instead, as she was bound to pull at it; luckily I found some ribbon just the right size. I then put on the tiny gold and diamond bangle that a friend had given her; it’s beautiful. She did try to pull it off for a while but soon got used to it.
I tried to give her to M&D with no luck, to MIL with no luck and to R with no luck, so that I could go and get myself ready. In the end I had to take her up with me and pulled on a white skirt with elasticated waist (big mistake – I look enormous in the photos) and a new blue and white blouse. I wish I’d thought to plan my outfit properly! I also wish I’d had my hair trimmed and straightened on Saturday afternoon rather than Friday morning. It looked great all day Friday, and good on Saturday, but by Sunday it had boinged back into unruly waves, and because it was such a hot day I just scraped it back into a chavvy ponytail, exposing my Margaret Rutherford double chin from the side view. Still, the day wasn’t about me, it was about K – though I wanted her to look at her Christening photos in the future and not be ashamed of her Mum. We’ve only seen compressed proofs of the photos though; maybe when they’re printed they’ll look more flattering. And maybe I can bung him an extra tenner and ask him to do a bit of airbrushing(!)
I grabbed all her paraphernalia and we got into the car with no trouble. The shawl Mum had lent was beautiful and sparkled in the sunlight but kept slipping off K’s shoulders, so isn’t in any of the church photos but I made sure that we had it with us in the garden for the pictures back home.
K loved the church; although we’ve been there several times this spring and summer, this was the first time we’d seen it with shafts of glorious sunlight coming through the windows, and she kept pointing at all the colours and going "Oooh! Oooh!" She really is such a delight, you know; I wish that you could all meet her. But then I suppose we all feel that way about our babies! We sat with M&D and D, at first, but R, K and I ended up behind a pillar and it wasn’t easy to see. So before the service started we moved to the pew in front, next to someone I used to work with. It was lovely to see work colleagues, and also some of the ladies from the hospital ward and day assessment unit; five of them came! Also some neighbours who had moved away some years ago, plus current neighbours and friends and family of course. There were about 60 of us in all. I’d invited the surgeon who had delivered K, but didn’t have a reply; one of the nurses told me that she’d heard he’d gone to work in a London hospital now, so he probably didn’t receive the invitation.
We had chosen four hymns, starting with "All Things Bright and Beautiful", but they didn’t have that one. Instead they had chosen some others, but kept one of our other choices in, which was "Morning has broken", and the service started with that. It was very appropriate, partly because it was such a beautiful morning, and because K’s middle name is Merle, my Mum’s name, and it means blackbird, and K simply loves birds and animals. The second hymn was "Wide, wide as the ocean", and the Curate showed us some actions to this, mainly for the children, but the whole congregation joined in. During the Baptism itself we sang the hymn "I’m special because God has loved me", and then lastly one of our other own choices, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation".
K was very good when being anointed with oil, and the Curate asked K’s two little cousins, S and E, to come and light the candle, which they did. Unfortunately K wasn’t so keen on being handed over for the part involving the Font and the water, and cried all the way through, though we have heard that that’s meant to be a good sign (I think that people were just being kind!). However, as soon as she was handed back she looked up, saw all the faces turned in her direction and smiled at them and did some of her regal waving, which made everyone laugh.
Then the Curate gave her talk and said that all babies were special, but she knew that K really WAS special. During the prayers she asked everyone to remember her Granddad N, (R’s Dad who had died a few years ago) and Uncle B (our BIL, who had died last September – the day of the Christening would have been his birthday). In some way it felt as though they were both with us in the church that day. She was going to mention that R was also Christened there and that his name was written on the "Cradle Roll" at the back of the church if anyone wanted to look for it, but she forgot to do that.
During the prayers she also gave a mention to the skill of those who had made K’s life possible, and a special thank you from us, and everyone, to the generosity of our anonymous donor, without whom K would never have existed. We have never met our donor, but I know that she is beautiful on the outside as well as on the inside, because everyone tells me how beautiful K is, and I always thank them and then attribute her good looks to our donor (and R of course!).
It was a really lovely service, and it seemed to be all over so quickly, but I shall never forget it.
Not everyone could come back to the house afterwards for lunch so we tried to talk to them first, in between having photos taken. While we were chatting others were having tea and coffee, and a little girl came round with a plate of biscuits. K grabbed a Jammie Dodger, and was clutching it in all the ensuing photographs!
Then our intention was to come back home first and get things ready, but some had already beaten us to it, so by the time we got indoors (with K now fast asleep after all the excitement) it was full of people giving us cards and presents and talking to us about the service, and asking us where the bowls were for the salad. I was going to make up a jug of Pimms, but never got round to it, but R had bought some champagne and one of our friends did the honours with that and the soft drinks while others helped with distributing food. We found things still stashed away in the fridge, cupboard and freezer after everyone had gone home, but there was plenty of food and drink left over, so I don’t think that anybody went thirsty or hungry. And we were able to give some people doggie bags to take home, and enjoyed the second Key Lime Pie that never made it to the table! I just wish that I’d been a bit more organised, but we managed to speak to everyone indoors, where R had downloaded pictures of K’s life so far onto a DVD so that people could watch it, and we spent time outside with people in the gazebo, the sunshine and the shade, near the trickling ‘water feature’ with some of our special pebbles in it, and the cats rolling contentedly in the catmint. Everyone was talking and laughing and so happy, and K had woken up and was enjoying all the attention; it was an idyllic day, and I just wanted it to go on for ever.
I was hoping to have some photos to put here, but we’ve just been sent the link to the online gallery and chosen the ones we’d like, but have to wait for them to arrive so that we can scan them in. I’d taken our digital camera and my Flip video camera, with some new batteries – unfortunately I didn’t realise that you have to charge rechargeable batteries first, so R had to take the working batteries out of the digital camera to put into the video one. Other people did take pictures so I’ve asked some to email me some.
So I’ll be back, hopefully in a few days’ time, with a picture or two to upload and share with you.